Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 8 - Brussels, Belgium (2011)

Today we explored Brussels. We had a few attractions in mind. Tour of Brussels was going to be a breeze since our guides (my sis- and brother-in-law) were residents of the city. 

We took a small train from their place to a transfer point to the Heysel Station. From there, it was a short walking distance to the Atomium. From the overpass we already got a glimpse of the humongous structure. 

The Atomium (photo taken from the overpass)
A monumnet in Brussels which was originally built for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair.
It is 102meters tall and has 9 steel spheres which are connected to each other via tubes.

getting closer

we passed by Bruparck exhibition

then thought of whether we should visit Mini-Europe (a themepark wherein you can tour Europe's famous sights in a few hours), but decided not to since we would be seeing some of the attractions in the next 2 weeks anyway so what's the point, right? 

We walked towards the Atomium, passing by several set up tents with food and music. They were preparing for a football game showing that evening, I think. That made us wonder if we should leave the premises before the crowd comes in the late afternoon, otherwise, we would get stuck there cheering for a football team we don't know of.

Just in front of the Atomium are these giant letters (like I Amsterdam).
Another opportunity for the kids to practice their climbing skills.

posing under the sun

different poses with different letters

While the kids were monkeying around the letters, some of us went to the ticketing counter to purchase our tickets. The queue to buy the tickets was shorter as compared to the queue going up the Atomium.
queuing up for the lift going to the top floor (sphere)
It was a long wait before we finally got into the lift (there was only one going up). 
But the view was worth the wait.

Ira leaning on the glass window at the top of the Atomium - enjoying the view

360 view of surrounding area below

After checking the view outside, we walked around and found this machine - the kids' favorite!
coin press machine
The kids were crazy about them - from Cologne Cathedral to Legoland, and now here.
This one cost Euro2 each. Expensive for a coin press, but cheap for a souvenir :)

getting ready to queue up again, this time to use the lift going down.
That's because there is no other access from this sphere to the other spheres. 
We had to go down first, then go up (and down) a series of escalators and stairs to explore the other spheres.

going up again to visit the spheres one by one (the open ones at least), this time using the escalators (and some stairs)

mini Atomium exhibit

some of the other exhibits inside the spheres

we had to climb up and down the stairs and ride escalators to get to the rest of the spheres open to public. There was a sphere designed to be a play area for the kids. Unfortunately, it was closed during  our visit. The kids were very disappointed.

view of the Atomium from it's base

After visiting the Atomium, we headed back to where Europa Park was, not to explore the theme park but to have lunch at one of the dining places there. We settled with McDonalds.

the kids playing with Tito Volker while waiting for lunch

top of the Atomium from where we were having lunch

when the kids were done with their lunch, they all headed out to the nearby playground while the adults finished their lunches and rested

We didn't stay longer in the area as we remembered that there will be an activity (football match, right?) in the afternoon. We headed back to the city via train, to explore the other attractions in Brussels.

Grand Palace square
a UNESCO World Heritage Site
one of the most important tourist attractions in Brussels

Maison du Roi (King's House), also called the Broodhuis (Bread House)

The Grand Palace square is surrounded by several historic buildings, most of which seemed to have intricate gold carvings in them
are these made of gold????

interesting man on horse statue on top of this building (Maison des Brasseurs) 
which was added in 1901

the Town Hall - stands 93meters tall

the central square with the King's House on the left, Guildhalls in the Grand Palace in the middle, the Town Hall on the right

there were a lot of tourists in the main square, taking snapshots of the surrounding buildings.

lucky are those who can take photos without any other tourists within the frame! 
This photo of mine even had a garbage truck included.

another shot of the Guildhalls

hubby was so engrossed in taking pictures around the square that we didn't know where our travel companions went! Anyway, we thought they probably wouldn't go that far. And we knew that we were all heading to the Mannekin Pis. In case we really don't see them after waiting for some time, we would just walk to the famous peeing boy statue.

after walking around the square, we finally found them! Took a group photo and continued our exploration of the area.

on the side of the Guildhall was this statue of a dying man.

biggest Nutella ever!

want to share a waffle with this Manneken Pis? (not the original though)

i think we are getting closer to the real thing

Finally! Manneken Pis. A famous Brussels Landmark located at the junction of Rue de l'Étuve/Stoofstraat and Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat. In short, just walk straight from the street where the dying man statue is located (walking away from the square) and it will take you here.

we were quite lucky because there were not many tourists around so we had a good view of this fairly small statue. On the left side of the photo you can see a notice board. This shows the schedule of when the statue will wear what type of costume. Yes, it does have a lot of costumes. It was unfortunate though it wasn't wearing any costume when we saw it. Well, I guess it is better to see it in its original form :) Maybe next time we will see it wearing a Barong Tagalog (if it has one).

we continued our walk and were bombarded with chocolate shops left and right. It was a great treat for the kids, and definitely an eye candy for me :)

a beer shop in the middle of the chocolate alley 

chocolate fountain

There were a LOT of chocolate shops in this street that we didn't know which shop to buy our chocolates from! There were packages of 4 large boxes, 10-12 small boxes, variety of chocolates, and a whole lot more. I bought a few boxes to bring home to some friends. And of course, some for personal consumption (by personal I mean for myself only, haha!).

playing charades while waiting for my brother and sister-in-law who were still out buying chocolates

last chance to get yourselves some chocolates, kids!

Of course, trip to Brussels wouldn't be complete without getting our usual favorite souvenirs:
map of Belgium with its featured attractions

snow globe for hubby with the town hall

That's it for Brussels for today.

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